It was a humid Miami day, nearly twenty years ago, when I was sworn in to become a lawyer at Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal. Since that time, I have spent nearly every day talking to lawyers, judges, juries and clients about America’s justice and our legal system.
As a Miami civil rights lawyer since 1991, I have seen Florida strip away freedom after freedom. Now Florida’s juries cannot decide the true value of one’s loss caused by a careless doctor or hospital. We have damage caps. Now an adult child over twenty five cannot bring a claim for a deceased parent, victimized by medical malpractice. Doctors are permitted, and arguably encouraged to not insure themselves, leaving many injured with no financial recovery when doctors make mistakes.
I am deeply saddened that Gay and Lesbian partners are prohibited from making loss of consortium claims, barring many from obtaining justice. In addition, Florida’s drivers need not carry bodily injury insurance, depriving innocent victims and their families compensation in most cases.
Florida’s State Constitution, has been amended so that it now has a medical malpractice cap that limits the attorney’s fees paid to patients’ lawyers, yet is silent on what hospitals or doctors can pay their own lawyers. These are but a few of the changes I have seen on my watch. Yet, there is little or nothing that I can say to those I represent, when the laws are there to protect not the injured but the powerful.
As America celebrates another birthday, I feel that nothing reflects liberty more than our laws. Laws that are intended to protect profits and not people are not just laws. They hardly seem to be the laws that our forefathers contemplated in 1776 or what many of our troops are fighting for today.
The BP Oil spill is yet another prime example of how big business, big money and big profit continue to dominate the rights of people and wildlife. On Sunday when you hear the “Star Spangled Banner” and enjoy the fireworks, make a commitment to somehow honor the truest intentions of our country.
If you have forgotten here is the preamble: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”